Sunday, October 12, 2014

13.FUN is 13.DONE

What a whirlwind ride that was! How does 15 weeks of training go by so fast, especially when the hill workouts and sprints never seem to end when you're running them?

Get comfortable and grab a beverage as I recount my 13.FUN challenge, just as I count every passing mile of each race:

1. Nineteen of my training days I was traveling for vacation or work in three different states. This made me get creative in order to stay on track!

2. I signed up and started training on June 23rd, while on vacation in Padre Island, Texas. Clearly, the serotonin from the warm sun was influencing my mood! This made for some hot but beautiful gulf coast runs.

3. Some of my Texas runs looked appropriately like a wine glass, and some of my runs I stopped to play in the sand! I was only caught in one rain storm and the rain was warm! I loved it!

4. On my next vacation trip, I ran around the beautiful Green Lake in Seattle, Washington which had perfect running temperatures and even more beautiful scenery!

5. When I traveled to San Diego, California for work,  I rallied some of my coworkers for early morning runs before our conferences stared for the day. It was a great crew and the first time I'd ever run with a group! Honestly, some of the runs were a bit more challenging after we had enjoyed the San Diego night life too!

6. I kept my training lively by running three 5K races, one of which my 8-year-old son and our cousin Cathy volunteered at the water station (in the pouring rain) while I ran pushing his brother in the stroller. My oldest son also ran a kids race and I ran the 5K at a local 4th of July race.

7. I ran three half marathons: Missoula, MT (week 3), Sandpoint, ID (week 13), and Colbert, WA (my culminating race at week 15).

8. Missoula is one of my favorite races and I finished in 2:21, only a minute off of my PR time! My friend Jessica ran too and my friend Michele was our much needed Sherpa. I ran in honor of a friend fighting Leukemia. 

9. Also in honor of our friend, I was the run leg for our "League of Awesome" Olympic distance triathlon team in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. This is the closest I'll ever come to completing a triathlon and I'm good with that. More power to my Tri-friends! I had a blast with these awesome ladies!

10. In week 13, the Sandpoint Scenic Half Marathon was a hard race because I was coming off of two unexpected minor surgeries. My doctor had released me to run, but cautioned that I wouldn't have the energy to run 13 miles; I didn't believe her and ran anyway...and she was right. I started to feel sluggish at mile 8 and hit the wall hard at mile 10. The last three miles were a brutally hard walk to the finish line. Surprisingly, I finished in 2:27, three minutes faster then when I'd run this race two years before! Thank God for Connie, my neighbor, who drove me and ran too. She was a much needed support. 

11. My biopsy and lumpectomy results came back clear! Based on my family history of breast cancer, my doctor had me do a preventative baseline MRI which, surprisingly, showed a small tumor in my right side. After a needle biopsy of the mass showed atypical ductal hyperplasia, it was determined to remove it.  Get it out and move on.  After 10 days of recovery and good lab test results, I was back to training with a clean bill of health!

12. Another Mother Runner meet and greet with Sarah & Dimity: To my excitement Sarah and Dimity came to Spokane, Washington where my friend Michele and I were able to meet them! What inspiring, hysterical ladies and the leaders of the 13.FUN challenge! Both Michele and I won a prize and took home a swag bag full of goodies! Check out their website and I highly recommend their books!  

13. Colbert Half Marathon was my 13.FUN culminating race. I chose it because of the notorious challenge of "the big hill towards the end," (can you say Holy Hills, Batman?) "hard race," and beautiful course scenery.  What bib number did I get? Number 1, of course! Now that's a lot of pressure! I ran a solid race and finished in 2:31. It helped to have Connie also running the race and my cousin Cathy as my Sherpa. Clearly, I am gaining my strength back each passing day. Thanks again, ladies!

F: Finish strong is what I tell others to do and it was time for me to live up to it. I was shocked to find out that I was chosen as one of two winners of the Finish Strong award given out in the 13.FUN challenge! So many others are just as worthy (if not more) of this prize. I'm so grateful and will be wearing the pendant necklace with great pride!

U: Underestimated my strength: I am stronger than I thought" AND #1! I ran a total of 228.6 miles, despite life throwing me a curve ball and sidelining me in weeks 11 and 12. I feel like a much stronger and more confident runner! I've learned a positive mindset can help me clear life's hurdles.

N: Nutrition and notes of encouragement kept my mind and body properly fueled. Friends and family sent me texts and Facebook high fives, my Strava team gave me kudos and positive support, and I found a nutrition plan that my body likes.  A perfect trifecta meant there was was no stopping me!

You deserve your own medal if you made it to the end of this marathon post!  How about a virtual high five? I hope to see you somewhere on my next adventure! Come join me! What's stopping you?

Thursday, August 21, 2014


Control. I'm constantly trying to have it in my life. Whether it be in my work, home, relationships, training plans, emotions, or eating, I quickly learn that I have none. I often fail when I attempt to influence, guide, or strong-hold things that are bigger than my willpower; leaving me feeling defeated, confused, angry, or even scared.

Months ago, I was asked: "Why did you start running and why do you keep running?" I didn't have an answer. I was stumped.  I guess it was because a doctor told me I shouldn't run because of my asthma. Just like the advice I heed from my own mother, I quickly rejected the notion and decided I wasn't going to let a doctor's opinion or diagnosis of a sickness determine what I could and couldn't do. 

Clearly, I'm stubborn, strong willed, and sometimes downright dumb. I believe I run because it is the only thing I feel I really do have control over: my pace, my distance, my route, my music, etc. When I run I'm free of everything trying to control me, and free of everything that I am trying to control, except the weather.

In the past few months, I have been given many reminders of how little or no control I have. These knock-you-down then kick-you-while-you-are-down reminders have come in the form of attending funerals for loved ones, having friends diagnosed with a deadly disease and fighting for their lives, having a test come back with a bad result, and consoling friends who are recovering from injuries.

(League of Awesome team at the Coeur d'Alene Triathlon wearing orange sparkle shirts to honor our friend Andrea's in her fight against Leukemia.)

(Missoula Half-Marathon dedicated to Andrea.)

It makes me stop and think, "What do I really have control over?" My answer is: my mind and my actions. Where are my mind and actions most positive? When I'm running. It gives me an outlet for the stress, gives my mind the time to process what to do, and gives my body the time to work through all the emotions. I don't know what I'd do if I couldn't run. 

(Enjoyed a rain-soaked TriFusion 5K race pushing my son in the stroller. Raccoon eyes compliments of the storm.) 

(Run in the rain? Why not? My son tucked himself inside the stroller and wanted me to run through more puddles!)

God has gifted me with an amazing husband, blessed me with two incredible boys, and surrounded me with the most loving family and friends I could imagine. Without them I would be lost.

(Cousin Cathy and my son volunteering at the water station for the TriFusion 5K race. They are some of my amazing supporters.)

(My parents are more of my amazing supporters. They are pictured here with a signed copy of their book "The Blades Carry Me." Inscription says, "Keep on, keeping on." My mother is wearing a No One Fights Alone shirt.)

(My sweet friend, Michele, who came to Missoula as my race support. Stopped to take a selfie when I saw her on course.)

Even when things are bad, hurtful, and hard, I have to believe it is all part of God's perfect plan. I'm not going to take a day on this earth for granted. I can't afford to and neither can you.

I'm going to cherish every moment; the good and the bad. I'm going to let go of what I can't control and redirect my energy to what I can I make others feel. Hopefully, I will make a positive difference in others lives. Maybe it will be in yours?

(Beautiful flowers from my hubby! These made me feel pretty special! Love you!)

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Once Upon a Time There Was a Porcupine and a Skunk

Once upon a time there was a porcupine and a skunk.... Who doesn't like once upon a time stories? My boys LOVE them and my run this week helped me create a good one for them.

Here's a real life dilemma: what do you do if you happen upon a porcupine in the road and then a skunk in your path, anytime, let alone on your run?

I chose to proceed slowly, using the change of pace for recovery and then sprinted away once I was past. I opted to take an alternate route home.  

As I approached, the porcupine appeared to be dead in the road, but I still followed procedure just in case he decided to wake from the dead and chase after me as a porcupine zombie. Didn't happen. Whew, all clear.

Just when I thought I'd had enough excitement for the day, I encountered a skunk on the path ahead of me. Luck was once again on my side as the skunk was more interested in something else than it was of me. All clear: check. More sprinting than called for on my "easy run" check, check.

Later, when I told my boys about my encounters they became very excited and wanted to know what I did and how I got away!  So, I told them:  I activated my creature-power suit to disguise myself to look like another porcupine then changed into a skunk. 

By the shocked and amazed look on my boys' faces, I had the right answer. Supermom in disguise. One of my many talents.

What's your superpower? 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

I'm All In: 13.FUN First Two Weeks

With a race confirmation, training plan, and no time to waste, I'm all in for my 13.FUN adventure! In fact, I've already conquered two weeks of training and started on my third!

A working mother of two requires me to be creative with my time and energy. I've had to make training a priority while ensuring it has as little of an impact as possible on my family.

This is what my juggling act looks like right now: two days a week I get up and run at 5 a.m. in order to get done and home before my husband has to leave for work. Today was one of those 5 a.m. training days. It is now 6:30 a.m. and I'm sitting here slurping on my protein shake with a conditioning treatment processing on my hair from my shower while I'm typing this blog. I feel accomplished (and a bit groggy) because my workout is already done for today and the house is quiet and still (rare occasion).

One day a week, I run in the evenings while my son is at his golf lesson or soccer practice, and I do a long run on the weekend.  My fifth day is usually a strength/cross training day and/or short run. 

These first two weeks of training have been amazing! I started my training on vacation and ran on the beach.  The water was so good for my soul.

My son and I ran the 4th of July Pennant Race and I ran a 5K PR!

I hear stiring in the house and it is only moments before I must switch into full mom-mode. Time for me to love on my kids. Farewell for now and happy running! 

Sunday, June 29, 2014


It all began with an email and soon thereafter, I joined a virtual mother-runner half-marathon training group: 13.FUN!

I am a follower of Another Mother Runner blog/emails/Facebook/Twitter ( and have read both of their books: Run Like A Mother and Train Like A Mother. Good grief, that makes me sound like a stalker with all kinds of time on my hands!  Honestly, I enjoy and appreciate their candid discussions, relevant mother-runner topics, and witty sense of humor. 

I've followed training plans before, but never with an online running club. Amazing what opportunities technology has opened up for us! I stepped out of my comfort zone again and signed up despite not knowing how it all works! 

Shortly after signing up, I received an email welcoming me to the 13.FUN private club on Strava and three training plans to choose from. I added a Strava app on my phone, downloaded the Race It Plan, and I was off and running, literally.

After my first morning run was posted on the club board, I began receiving kudos from complete strangers. Odd and encouraging all at the same time! 

Being a newbie, I don't know what to expect nor the unwritten rules of virtual training clubs.  Guess I'll learn by trial and error along with the other 85 13.FUN mother-runners just as crazy as I am!

When I returned home from vacation, I was surprised with a 13.FUN welcome package at my doorstep filled with some awesome goodies! Thanks, BAMRs (Bad Ass Mother Runners)!

Follow along as my 13.FUN virtual adventure unfolds over the next few months and culminates with a half-marathon in October.  Feel fee to follow me on Strava or Twitter (Smarty Mack, or @seesmartyrun). I hope to see you out there! Better yet, there are still a few days left if you're a mother-runner and want to sign up and join in on the fun at

Happy running!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

I'm Seeing Yellow

I avoid wearing yellow like the plague because, honestly, it makes me look like I have the plague. I'm not a fashionista, but I do know what colors do not look good on me and yellow is at the top of the list. Ironically, I'll be wearing yellow for my race on Sunday and I've never been more excited to wear it!

For the first time EVER, I will be wearing a YELLOW race bib for Bloomsday! What does that mean? It means that my training, determination, faith, and perseverance paid off enabling me to run a qualifying race time, which ultimately earned me the honor to wear yellow. 

I never thought I could do it and only dreamed of running that fast. (I'm still slow, but leap years ahead of where I started.) In March, I ran the St. Paddy's  Five Miler without my Garmin watch or friends. I went to the race solo, plugged myself into my music, and just ran. My only goal was to beat my 52 minute finish time from last year.  

After the race, I joined the crowd hovering around the sheets listing finishing times and was disappointed when I couldn't find my name. I stepped back to let others in to see their results. When I stepped up to look again, I couldn't believe what I saw...45:45! YES! I've never run that far that fast before...until now. I smoked my 52 minute finish by shaving seven minutes off that time and five minutes off my 5-mile PR!  Seriously?!  I immediately called my cousin and started celebrating. I think I'm still on that runner's high!

Clearly, I don't appear to be running fast, nor on a runner's high at the finish of the St. Paddy's Five!

Now, I sit here looking at my yellow Bloomsday bib in disbelief that I'm holding it. I laughed and smiled when the volunteers handed it to me at packet pick up. One volunteer said to the other, "yellow, we have ourselves another speedy one." Wow. Are they really talking about me?!

I've been challenging myself to get stonger and continuously step out of my comfort zone. Trail running on a day full of wind, rain, sleet, hail, thunder and lightening is a perfect example. Luckily, I found another friend crazy enough to run with me! 

Last Sunday, Jessica and I ran the Spokane River Run 10k and were lucky enough to have the weather bless us for our run. It was raining until we started running, stopped during our run, and started again as soon as we were leaving. Thank you Weather Gods!

The Bloomsday forecast for tomorrow is cool with a chance of showers. I'll take it. I'm excited to "run" this race for the first time. It will be a new experience to be in a color group where I don't get caught up in the swarm of walkers blocking the road as they walk five wide. I'm excited for the challenging course. I'm grateful for the Yellow opportunity. My lungs feel good and my legs feel strong. I have a new playlist ready and will not wear my Garmin. I have friends to run with. Now it is up to God to guide me. Bring on Bloomsday. Let's run!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Everything is bigger in Texas, even the surprises.

stand at the doorstep and ring the doorbell. My heart is racing and I'm smiling from ear to ear. I've traveled thousands of miles and hours by plane and car waiting for this moment; a secret I've kept for two weeks. It's 9:15 p.m. on Friday in Corpus Christi, Texas and the door opens. The woman who answers studies me for a moment trying to recognize and place me. 

"Oh my gosh, what in the world are you doing here?" My mom says to me in excited disbelief.  "Jim, come here, you have to see who just showed up at our door!"

After hugging my mom, I run around the corner where my dad goes speechless on his phone call when he sees me. My sister's voice on the other end of the phone says, "Christine is there, isn't she," more as a knowing comment rather than a question. My sister was in on the surprise and our plan was flawless. Let the party begin! Literally.

The next two days are a whirlwind of people, celebrations, book readings, book selling and signings. My parents did it!  They published their book "The Blades Carry Me: Inside the Helicopter War in Vietnam." 

Three years of laughter, frustration, tears, aching hearts, and processing of 45 years of repressed memories brought my parents to this moment; surrounded by 100 of their friends who arrived to celebrate their book with them!  Well, make that 101 counting me. Does that make me a groupie?

The events were organized and smooth thanks to many good friends who volunteered to take care of everything from food set up, beverage service, book sales, moderating the reading, and shuttling people to and from their cars by golf cart. 

Over 85 books were sold and signed at their event with more copies sold on Amazon and Barnes and Noble! And they have only received five star reviews!

Their book reading was heartfelt and perfect. I don't think there was a dry eye in the place. I was beaming with pride! Their book was amazing and I couldn't put it down until I'd read the whole thing.

In between events, set up, and visiting, I was able to go for a run. Both days I wore shorts and a tank top, LOVE the warm weather! 

The second day Mother Nature tried to help me multitask and surprised me with a rain shower on my run. Running back into the rain and headwind I felt like I was going slow. Celebrating the fact that I didn't melt, I took a rain-drenched selfie when I returned then hit the real shower. 

Later, I glanced at my running splits. Holy speed, Batman! I've never run that fast in my life! My "slow" mile 2 included a quick stop to take a photo of where I'd just run from. Good grief, maybe I should only run in the rain...or rather run to get out of the rain! I'm so excited!

This trip had surprises all around; big ones the size of Texas! If you take the time to read my parents' book, I guarantee you will be surprised by how it keeps you reading and emotionally moves you.  Want to read a true account of our family history? Here's your chance! "The Blades Carry Me: Inside the Helicopter War in Vietnam" by James V. Weatherill and Anne Weatherill.  Find it at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. 

So proud of what my parents have accomplished. It was a wild weekend and I wouldn't have missed for the world. I'd do anything for my family.  Love to you all!